Propane customers warned to stock up before next cold snap

(WFSB file photo)

(WFSB) – Summer is around the corner and experts are warning of the possibility of a pending propane shortage.

The US Energy Information Administration said that in November 2020, propane was $2.70 a gallon and by March 2021, it was $3.21.

To learn more about the steady increase, Channel 3 headed to Marlborough to talk with Danielle Gjonbalaj, Vice President of Connecticut Propane.

“We’re there, we’re there. Prices have increased,” Gjonbalaj said.

She says propane usage is highest during the winter, but demand has not tapered off as it usually does at this time of year.

“We are swamped now with customers calling for their pool heat right now because a lot of people are still at home because of the pandemic,” Gjonbalaj said.

In addition to the high demand Gjonbalaj also says the potential shortage can also be blamed on the gas being exported at higher numbers. She says the deep freeze that paralyzed Texas late last year didn’t help, either. It’s leading Connecticut Propane to stock up.

“We’re just trying to secure enough for our customers. We know we have enough storage for our customers and we’re trying to keep that margin low,” Gjonbalaj said.

However, others in the industry say they aren’t seeing the effects.

In a statement to WFSB, Chris Herb, the president of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association says none of the 600 local propane and heating oil companies he represents are having issues getting propane.

Herb says prices may be up, but supply is “not an issue whatsoever.” He says, “our members report that they have contracted for all of the supply they need to serve their customers, which means they are guaranteed to get the propane they need for their customers.”

As the pandemic pushed more people within the confines of their homes, Carl and Nicole Foster would frequently turn on the grill.

“I was cooking a lot. I’ve never cooked so much in my life being out of work for so long,” Nicole said.

“I get propane literally once a month,” Carl said.

Over the last few months, Carl has noticed he’s paying more for propane.

“A tad bit more, kind of like the gas, but I thought it was more of a trend,” Carl said.

He hasn’t noticed a huge spike on the retail side when he fills his 20 pound tank.

Gjonbalaj says the price increases could last through the winter and while she didn’t have an estimate as to how high the prices may go, she pointed to 2014 when prices got as high as nearly $4 a gallon in many New England states.

Copyright 2021 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(1) comment

There is absolutely NOT a shortage of propane in New England. If your local propane exchange cage is out of filled exchange tanks to swap, just try another location or take your tank to any dispenser station to be filled. Many convenience stores and hardware stores have dispenser stations and can fill your tank with propane.

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